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Iranian Activist Ends 49-day Hunger Strike


Iranian human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh ended a 49-day hunger strike Tuesday after authorities lifted a travel ban on her daughter.

Iranian human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh ended a 49-day hunger strike Tuesday after authorities lifted a travel ban on her daughter.

Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, in prison for charges of conspiring to harm state security, has ended a 49-day hunger strike after Iranian authorities bowed to her demand to lift a travel ban on her daughter, according to her husband.

Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, reported the end of the hunger strike on his Facebook page at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Tehran time, saying his wife “ended her hunger strike when the judicial restriction on Mehraveh was lifted.” The posting is no longer available.

He also thanked women’s rights activists gathered outside the parliament and met with parliament members. Two members of Iran’s parliament, Mohammadreza Tabesh and Hassan Aboutorabi Fard, had been actively involved in the case, meeting with the head of parliament and the head of the judiciary to discuss Sotoudeh, according to the opposition website Kaleme.

In recent days, Khandan had stated publicly that he was concerned for his wife’s health.

Iranian social media users reacted positively to the news immediately, posting hundreds of messages on Facebook, Twitter and other networks popular among Iranians.

Twitter user ‏@FerDokht tweeted :

“The best news of today was the end of Nasrin Sotoudeh’s hunger strike :*”
And posted the photo of a text message about the news. Text messaging is an important way to spread news in Iran. Another user tweeted “after 49 days, Nasrin Sotoudeh finally achieved human rights for her child” Over the past week, international pressure on Sotoudeh’s behalf had started to grow.

Earlier Tuesday, Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, urged Iranian authorities to free Sotoudeh and lift the travel ban.

On November 30, the U.S. State Department issued a statement, saying, “We are deeply troubled by reports of the rapidly declining health of jailed Iranian human rights defender … Iranian officials have denied Sotoudeh, a leading women’s rights champion, medical care during her more than six-week hunger strike and have kept her in solitary confinement.”

The State Department went on to demand Sotoudeh’s release along with 30 other female political prisoners held in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison.

On Monday, Khandan told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that their children had not been able to have telephone calls with their mother for the past 19 months, even though prisoners are normally entitled to in-prison meetings and telephone calls with family members.

Sotoudeh is a well-known figure in Iran for her work fighting human rights cases, and is currently serving a six-year jail sentence after a conviction for spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security. She was arrested in September 2010.

Last month Soutoudeh and Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi were awarded the European Union's Sakharov prize for human rights and freedom of thought. Panahi has been held under house arrest since December 2010.

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